CO Rockies Wildfires

Jessy Ellenberger made this photo from the deck of her home north of Granby, Colo., just before sunset on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Residents in and around a gateway town to Rocky Mountain National Park have evacuated and the park was closed after one of several fires burning in northern Colorado exploded late Wednesday. The damage to the Grand Lake area from the East Troublesome Fire was not clear as of Thursday morning. (Jessy Ellenberger via AP)

The Colorado State Forest Service will begin accepting proposals from local governments, fire protection districts, community groups and homeowners associations, ultimately awarding $700,000 for projects to improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk.

"The state can fund up to 50 or 75 percent of the cost of each awarded project; grant recipients are required to match at least 25 or 50 percent of the total project cost through cash or in-kind contributions depending on whether the project location falls within an area of ‘fewer economic resources,” the Forest Service announced.

Colorado's Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation Grant Program will give preference to projects that are implemented across landowner boundaries, are located within a priority area, or involve forest treatment that protects water supplies. While the money can support forest restoration, it may not be used to rehabilitate forest land following wildfires.

The announcement follows an unusually destructive fire season, with the Cameron Peak Fire being the largest in Colorado's history with smoke and ash drifting to the Denver Metro area on multiple occasions. As of Wednesday, The Denver Channel reported that the Cameron Peak blaze was 92% contained.

Applications are due to Forest Service field offices by Dec. 11. Individual grants are worth up to $250,000.

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